What is a Kick-off Meeting, what are essential ingredients and what are useful tips?
The event for the start of the project
A kick-off meeting marks the start of a project for which the project team meets. Depending on the organization and concrete situation, the project team gets to know each other and discusses the project, the project goals and the project procedure. In addition to the exchange of information, the kick-off meeting – alternatively also referred to as kick-off event or kick-off for short – promotes the motivation of the project participants.
According to DIN 69901-5 “Project Management – Project Management Systems. Part 5: Terms” a kick-off meeting takes place after the project planning and before the project start. In business practice, however, kick-offs are also conceivable in the course of projects at the beginning of new project phases. Interestingly, neither the PMBOK Guide, PRINCE2 nor the ICB know of a kick-off meeting, as there is no reason for a separate meeting for a defined project order, a known project organization and a functioning exchange of information. However, if a kick-off meeting does take place, it is not so much a motivational event as an initial retreat for the project team.
Components of a kick-off event
Essential components of a kick-off event are:
- Welcome by the project management or, in the case of particularly important projects, by the management
- Depending on the number of participants, a round of introductions; alternatively, it is also possible for individual team representatives to briefly introduce their teams and employees
- Description of the vision, objectives and expected benefits of the project, as well as opportunities and risks
- Identification of essential content and requirements, including defined system and project boundaries
- Definition of roles and tasks, responsibilities and contact persons
- Explanation of the project structure plan and time schedule
- Definition of the procedure including interaction with the client, dealing with changes, documentation of results, use of tools and communication rules
- Moderated discussion of suggestions and concerns
Participants of Kick-offs
The participants of the kick-off meeting are determined by the type of meeting. If it is an internal event, no external participants such as clients, supplier representatives or partners take part. If it is a joint event, the external participants meet the management of the contractor, the project team including project management as well as other project participants, e.g. representatives of other departments or departments. Ideally, the invitation to the kick-off is issued by the management – or at least by the project management – both during internal and external exchanges, because this emphasizes the priority of the project at the start of the project. In addition, this promotes a positive basic mood.
Tips for Kick-off meetings
Since a kick-off meeting for a project is a unique event, it should be very well thought out and organized. It is important
- to prepare it well and to coordinate location, date, duration and agenda.
- to carry out and moderate it in a structured manner.
- to use it for an exchange of information.
- to end with a clear message and formulation of objectives.
- to follow up.
Especially the follow-up is often neglected in practice. It offers the possibility to send a protocol to all participants, to answer open questions and, if necessary, even to include findings from the kick-off meeting in the planning and to document them accordingly.
Besides the described kick-off meeting in the context of projects, there are kick-offs in other situations, e.g. as a start into a new business year as a motivation event in the sales area. There is also a kick-off in sport in numerous disciplines such as football or American football, where it marks the beginning of the game.
The Individual Competence Baseline knows a start-up workshop, which is not intended as a kick-off event, but serves to develop the project order.